One of the most popular beaches in Crete, is Elafonisi. It gets quite busy, but there is a lot of beach space for everyone to spread out. If you enjoy walking, there’s a lot to explore. If your legs are wrecked from hiking Samaria Gorge, you also don’t need to walk very far to get a good spot on the beach. You can wade around in the shallow water of the lagoon or island. Or, hunt for deeper swimming coves in the rocky north side of the beach.
Elafonisi is actually structured as an island (the name means “Deer Island” in Greek). You might be surprised to note that the area is a protected nature reserve (it has its share of beach loungers and beach activities). The dunes, decorated with with tamarisk and shrubs, are protected by ropes and it’s not permitted to walk onto them even if they look like fun. If you’re a nature lover, look out for the beautiful white sea daffodils which are indigenous.
Pink Sand of Crete
This famous pink sand phenomenon can also be seen at Balos Lagoon. It’s caused by tiny micro-organisms that live amongst the local seaweed. The sand itself is protected due to common occurrences of sand theft in the past. The pink sand effect can be difficult to see, unfortunately, and this is most probably due to large amounts of the sand being taken home by tourists in the past. Keep an eye out for the pink sand near the water’s edge.
What to Eat
If you’re hungry, there is a restaurant a little way off the beach with salads, burgers and other essential lunch items (€7 for a big Greek salad, €3,50 for fries, €2 for orange juice or frappés). There’s also a shop that sells beers, ice creams and other deliciously unhealthy snacks. The beach has loungers with beach umbrellas available for rent around the lagoon too, like most of the beaches on Crete.
This spot is beautiful for sunset colours, but if you want to see the sun set over the sea, head north to Falasarna.
Travel tip: Beaches on this side of Crete can be windy, so be prepared.